Posts Tagged ‘Norfolk Southern’

Reading & Northern Gets Grant for Bridge

August 25, 2014

 

The Reading & Northern Railroad has landed a $10 million state grant to build a new railroad bridge over the Lehigh River near Nesquehoning in Carbon County, Pa. The R&N will contribute $4 million to the project.

The bridge will provide a route connecting the Philadelphia region to New England and eastern Canada. Reading & Northern will offer the use of this route to Norfolk Southern and Canadian Pacific railroads, both of which already use part of the short line’s network.

Andrew Muller, Jr., owner and CEO of the railroad, said that the bridge will enable Reading & Northern to provide improved service to dozens of its existing customers. It will be the fastest and route into the Marcellus Shale territory in northeast Pennsylvania and it will carry double-stack intermodal containers to flow in and out of the Port of Philadelphia to points in the northeastern U.S. and Canada.

“I have been working for almost two decades to bring this bridge and resulting new route to fruition,” Muller said in a news release. “This bridge will enable us to better serve our customers and it will bring economic development and jobs to northeastern Pennsylvania.”

It will take 18 months to construct the bridge. Under the terms of the grant, the state funds will be made available over two fiscal years with half of the funds released each year.

 

 

Now We Know

August 23, 2014

Valuable

Most companies like to at least claim how much they value their employees. Shaffer Trucking Company takes it one step further by splashing it on the side of their trailers.

A Shaffer trailer was riding westbound on an NS intermodal train through Vermilion, Ohio, with an unexpected juxtaposition. Normally, the large arrow points toward the tractor pulling the trailer, an apparent reference to the truck’s driver.

But on NS it appears as through the company’s most valuable resource is a Triple Crown trailer. Could this be the proverbial Freudian slip?  Note that another trucking company used to own this trailer and its name is bleeding through.

Photograph by Craig Sanders

NS Airs TV Commercial During Election Season

August 23, 2014

 

Norfolk Southern has released a television commercial that will air through the mid-term elections on CNN and Fox News.

The 30-second commercial is aimed at business decision makers and the public. Titled “Just Another Day,” it highlights how NS moves a “nearly inconceivable” amount of freight every day, but to their folks it’s “just another day.”

NS said that the commercial’s message is about “getting it done” every day, and positions NS as part of the fabric of American life.

The commercial was produced by the RP3 Agency under director Ray Dillman, an Emmy winner who has created commercials for AllState, the U.S. Army, American Airlines, PGA, Coca-Cola, Bank of America, Home Depot, Zales Jewelers, and others. The commercial was filmed in Atlanta’s Inman Yard.

 

 

‘Honey Creek’ on the NS Sandusky District

August 22, 2014

A chase of the Norfolk & Western heritage unit earlier this year on Norfolk Southern’s Sandusky District gave me the opportunity to explore some new photo locations.

Just geographically south of Attica, the Sandusky District dips into the valley of Honey Creek and through the farming community of Caroline.

In recent years, some new photo spots have come to light in this area. Since the Sandusky District is usually busiest in the afternoon and these spots are west of the tracks, they are something to look for.

As you leave Attica, there is a new reservoir where you will find an elevated view of passing trains in either direction. The signals that are adjacent to the reservoir are called by NS crews as “Honey Creek.”

The next spot is visible from the reservoir looking to the south. A small sign on Ohio Route 4 at the bridge over Honey Creek, says “Honey Creek Park.” The park is just a couple of picnic tables and a basket on a post that can be used for some type of game with a ball.

But the park extends back to the tracks. The shot here is from below track level, which is not something that everyone cares for, but you can with a short telephoto lens include the top of the Attica Elevator in your photo. You need a southbound on the westerly track, which is designated as No. 1.

Northbounds can be shot crossing the bridge over Honey Creek, but you don’t get much of the train, just the motive power.

A third spot is right across the creek from the park. This is the original Attica Reservoir. Here you can shoot across the water and, when the water is calm, get a nice reflection.

Parking for the reservoir is the first driveway to the left after crossing Honey Creek while heading south on Route 4.

Sometimes the locals will be out drowning worms in the water, but they can be worked into your photo if you ask them. During the spring, a couple of pairs of Canada honkers had nests near the tracks. They didn’t appreciate me getting too close to the little honkers, but they, too, could be used as photo props as well.

While railfanning around Honey Creek, remember the railroad is timetable east/west. Southbound trains are going east. The tracks are numbered Pennsylvania Railroad style with the “south” track being designated as No. 1.

NS trains often get held in this area while waiting to get across CSX (the former Baltimore & Ohio) at Attica Junction (Siam) or when the Bellevue yard has no room for them.

The latter was the case with the N&W heritage unit when we saw it earlier this summer.

They moved up one train length every two hours. We had time to run into Bellevue and refuel my Jeep during one of the waiting periods.

While this doesn’t always happen, it could and does on occasion. So be prepared to shoot some interesting photos in the area around Honey Creek.

Article by Marty Surdyk

It’s a Bird! It’s a Train! No, It’s a Dave!

August 19, 2014
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The 26E with Dave Mangold at the controls crosses the Vermilion River on Saturday, Aug. 16.

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Look closely and you can see fellow Akron Railroad Club member Dave Mangold in the cab of NS No. 6942.

We had been in the middle of an hour-long drought during the Akron Railroad Club’s outing in Vermilion, Ohio. We saw plenty of ducks, boats and even a crane, but no trains. Then the radio silence was broken by the 14K calling the signal at CP 222. At least, a train!

Shortly thereafter, we could hear what sounded like another train talking on the radio with the 14K and that voice sounded familiar. “That sounds like Dave Mangold,” said Todd Vander Sluis. Indeed, it was.

Dave was at the throttle of the 26E, an intermodal train that

And Dave had a lot to say on the air. He thought that the flashing “X” signals that tell an approaching train crew that the crossing gates are working properly in Vermilion, was not working. So, he told the Toledo East Dispatcher, “we sounded the horn in an appropriate manner.” As he passed the crossing, Dave told the dispatcher, he observed that the gates were down as expected.

Vermillion has four-quad gates so that trains do not have to sound their locomotive horns except in cases of emergency or other safety considerations.

Dave also stopped his train in Vermillion because the 14K was stopped ahead of him. The 14K also had called the Toledo East Dispatcher to discuss something and said in the process that he couldn’t see the signals at CP 219.

Whatever it was, it all got straightened out and the 14K was on the move and soon so was the 26E.

We also learned from Dave that Toledo that morning had been a parking lot.

We think Dave might have seen us as his train rolled over the Vermilion River for he gave us a wave at the far east end of the bridge.

No other trains reported problems with the flashing X signals in Vermilion that we heard and as far as we can tell NS did not send a maintainer out to check on them.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

ARRC to Visit Alliance, Sebring This Sunday

August 19, 2014

On Sunday, Aug. 24 the Akron Railroad Club will visit the Norfolk Southern hot spot of Alliance with an afternoon side trip to Sebring.

The Sebring Model Railroad Club is open on Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. and has said they would love to have us stop by for a visit between NS trains. The club is located in the former Pennsylvania Railroad depot adjacent to the NS Fort Wayne Line.

Our day will begin at the parking lot for the Alliance Amtrak Station. Railfans have been gathering here for years to watch and photograph the passing parade of trains.

As is our custom, the day begins when the first person shows up and ends when the last person leaves.

The Alliance Amtrak station is not hard to find. As you enter town look for the green signs that show an Amtrak train next to a station platform with a passenger standing on the platform.

Sometime after noon, we will trek east to the depot/model railroad club in Sebring, which features a large HO scale layout. The Sebring club is open between noon and 5 p.m.

After we tire of seeing the models and get plenty of photos in the depot area, we may head back to Alliance, or continue east to other popular photo spots along the Fort Wayne Line. That will be up to the participants and hinge upon the the weather.

ARRC members and guests are welcome to join us for any portion or even all of this event.

At the end of the day, a dinner stop at an area restaurant may be in order. A leading candidate is the Bob Evans restaurant at 2501 State Street (Ohio Route 62 East) in Alliance.

So for some good NS action, and a chance of seeing an NS heritage unit, make plans to be in the Alliance/Sebring area on Sunday, Aug. 24.

ARRC Members See 32 NS Trains in Vermilion

August 18, 2014
An eastbound train crosses the Vermilion River during the Akron Railroad Club outing to Vermilion on Saturday. Club members spent the morning and early afternoon hours at the Vermilion marina.

An eastbound train crosses the Vermilion River during the Akron Railroad Club outing to Vermilion on Saturday. Club members spent the morning and early afternoon hours at the Vermilion marina.

It was a day that had just about a little of everything. With mostly sunny skies and a nice breeze, the weather was near ideal. Aside from an hour-long lull in early afternoon, there was plenty of train traffic. And the variety was about as good as you could hope for on the Norfolk Southern Chicago Line.

There was even a bonus just after 3 p.m. when fellow Akron Railroad Club member Dave Mangold led the 26E past us.

It was all in a day’s outing in Vermillion that was attended by seven ARRC members – eight if you count Dave’s short appearance – and which netted 32 trains over a 12-hour period that at least one attendee was able to spot.

It was the ARRC’s second outing to Vermilion, which is the hometown of member Todd Vander Sluis.

Rick Houck was the first to arrive at about 9 a.m. The host dropped in around 11, about the same time that Paul Tait.

ARRC President Craig Sanders pulled into the upper level parking lot for the Vermilion marina around 12:30 p.m. and much to his displeasure he was greeted with the westbound 21T rumbling across the bridge over the Vermilion River before he could get his camera out.

Why the fuss? Because the stacker was led by NS 6963, the GoRail locomotive.

ARRC Bulletin editor Marty Surdyk jointed the party just after 4 p.m. By then, we had moved from the marina to the railfan platform in Victory Park in downtown Vermilion.

Joining us to round out the attendance were Don Woods and Dave Shepherd, who had been out roaming with their cameras.

Aside from the steady parade of trains that NS fielded, we were also entertained by the harried Toledo East Dispatcher who was having a tough time finding open track to run all of the trains crowding her territory.

Crews were outlawing, the crossing gates were broken at a crossing east of our location, and there was traffic congestion in Cleveland and Toledo. Westbound trains were stacking up around CP 232 on Track No. 1.

As the dispatcher was explaining her plight to someone over the radio, a voice could be heard saying “you’re gonna die!”

Another light moment occurred when the 65R, an empty crude oil train, called the dispatcher to ask if he should move further west. The dispatcher replied “yes,” but it seemed as though crew and dispatcher were talking past each other.

Finally, the dispatcher said, “if you don’t accept the signal [at CP 219] I can’t move anything.”

At that point, there were trains standing still on both tracks on both sides of Vermilion. If the 65R would just move up to behind the 15N then the 64R, a loaded crude oil train, could move eastward as could the 24M, an intermodal train with several UPS trailers.

Aside from the GoRail unit, there was also some variety in motive power with BNSF, Canadian Pacific and Union Pacific units to be seen. Most of those were trailing, but a lone BNSF unit was leading an empty coal train westward.

The crew of that train was going as far as Sandusky where it would disembark to be taken back to CP 219 to move the 25V, which was tied down there on Track No. 1 after its crew ran out of time.

We never did see the 25V. That westbound train of coal hoppers was the last train we were able to photograph as the light of day was dying.

Perhaps the day’s highlight was 26E pass by just after 3 p.m. It was just your run of the mill intermodal train except that fellow ARRC member Dave Mangold was at the controls.

How did we know it was him? Well, Dave spent a lot of time talking with the 14K ahead of him and with the Toledo East dispatcher. We recognized his voice.

After bagging our last train, we headed for the nearby Quaker Steak and Lube. There were five of us left and only three made it to the Lube.

Rick’s car battery was dead and, fortunately for him, he was able to flag down Paul. The two of them finally made their way to Quaker Steak to join us.

Being the nice guy that he is – as well as being part owner of auto repair shop – Marty offered to help Rick jumpstart his Toyota Prius.

Marty hasn’t don’t much work on hybrid cars and he needed to bone on up the Prius. He consulted his go-to source of information: YouTube.

Not only did Marty learn how to jumpstart a Prius, he also learned how to clean out a garage.

All ended well. Marty got Rick’s car started and everyone made it safely home.

Next Sunday we’ll be back on the road again, this time spending the day in Alliance and Sebring. Maybe this time we’ll bag a bona fide NS heritage unit.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

There were plenty of boats to watch as well as trains by the Vermilion marina.

There were plenty of boats to watch as well as trains by the Vermilion marina.

NS is phasing our RoadRailers and there are just two of these trains left on the Chicago Line. No. 261 heads for Sandusky in front of the Vermilion railfan platform on Saturday afternoon.

NS is phasing our RoadRailers and there are just two of these trains left on the Chicago Line. No. 261 heads for Sandusky in front of the Vermilion railfan platform on Saturday afternoon.

The former Vermilion passenger station stands watch as the 21G forwards its containers westward.

The former Vermilion passenger station stands watch as the 21G forwards its containers westward.

The 15N had one of the more colorful motive power consists. Behind the lead NS unit is motive power of Canadian Pacific, BNSF and Union Pacific.

The 15N had one of the more colorful motive power consists. Behind the lead NS unit is motive power of Canadian Pacific, BNSF and Union Pacific.

The Vermilion water tank looms as a westbound manifest train rolls through town.

The Vermilion water tank looms as a westbound manifest train rolls through town.

The crew of the 65R finally accepted the signal at CP 219, crossed over to Track No. 1 and took its place waiting in line behind at least two other westbound trains.

The crew of the 65R finally accepted the signal at CP 219, crossed over to Track No. 1 and took its place waiting in line behind at least two other westbound trains.

A faded BNSF war bonnet leads the 64R through downtown Vermillion This train would need an NS locomotive to lead it out of Cleveland into cab signal territory on the Cleveland Line.

A faded BNSF war bonnet leads the 64R through downtown Vermillion This train would need an NS locomotive to lead it out of Cleveland into cab signal territory on the Cleveland Line.

It's glint shot time.

It’s glint shot time.

The sun gleams on the last tank car of the 64R as it heads for Cleveland. But not for long. The train stopped at CP 203 because the dispatcher did not have a route for it into Cleveland.

The sun gleams on the last tank car of the 64R as it heads for Cleveland. But not for long. The train stopped at CP 203 because the dispatcher did not have a route for it into Cleveland.

Last train of the day that we were able to photograph. The last rays of sunlight illuminate the nose of a BNSF unit leading a load of empty coal hoppers.

Last train of the day that we were able to photograph. The last rays of sunlight illuminate the nose of a BNSF unit leading a load of empty coal hoppers.

The sun was about to set as the ARRC party arrived at the Quaker Steak and Lube, located next to the Vermilion River. It made for a nice ending to the day.

The sun was about to set as the ARRC party arrived at the Quaker Steak and Lube, located next to the Vermilion River. It made for a nice ending to the day.

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H Units, Locomotives of Interest in NE Ohio

August 17, 2014

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A short one-hour stay in Berea on Saturday morning netted the Norfolk Southern GoRail engine and a pair of new GE Tier 4 demonstrators on a CSX train.

As if that wasn’t enough, the Central of New Jersey and Reading heritage units combined on a 746 coal train for a run across Northern Ohio.  I went to Massillon for the curved bridge shot and was rewarded with a nice sunlight view.

I chased this duo to Mansfield where the crew tied down the train but unfortunately the sun did not hold up very far west.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

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NS Sues Engineer Involved in Derailment

August 14, 2014

It what may be an effort to forestall a lawsuit against it, Norfolk Southern has taken the unusual action of suing the engineer of one of its trains that derailed in early July in Sewickley, Pa., after it struck the rear of a train ahead of it.

NS is suing Charles E. Heilig, of Freedom, Pa., for the damages to the trains, track and right of way, and cleanup costs. The lawsuit did not specify a figure for the cost of those damages.

Heilig declined comment when contacted by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and there was no lawyer listed for him in federal court documents.

A spokesman for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen said Heilig isn’t listed as one of its members. A spokesman for SMART, another union that includes railroad engineers, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Norfolk Southern spokesman Dave Pidgeon declined comment.

Several lawyers familiar with employment and railroad laws said it’s unlikely that Heilig has insurance that would cover a judgment to be paid to NS if it wins the case.

Eugene Keefe, a Chicago employment lawyer who represents companies, said the suit might be an effort to discourage a lawsuit being filed by Heilig.

Railroad employees aren’t covered by workers compensation laws. The Federal Employers Liability Act allows them to sue their employers for job-related injuries.

If Heilig sued NS and won a judgment, the railroad could seek to recover the money by winning a judgment in its lawsuit against Heilig, Keefe said.

John Stember, an employment law attorney who represents a local of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, said companies might seek to dock an employees pay or take other actions in response to accidents, but he hasn’t heard of suing them in federal court for damages.

“I’ve never seen it, and I’ve done this a long time,” he said.

Robert Peirce, a personal injury lawyer who represents those hurt in railroad incidents, made a similar comment. “I’ve not seen one like it,” he said.

Sam Cordes, an employment lawyer who represents employees, said he’s seen companies sue employees to recover damages they have to pay to third parties, but that only makes sense if the employee has an insurance policy.

“That is probably what’s going on,” he said.

The derailment occurred on July 2 when one NS train slammed into the rear of another train. In Sewickley, which is located between Pittsburgh and Conway Yard.

The wreck, which occurred near Chadwick Street, ignited a fire that damaged three locomotives, two railcars, the tracks and the right of way, the lawsuit says. The suit also contends that NS had to pay to clean up diesel fuel that spilled after the collision.

Union Pacific owned two of the damaged locomotives while TXX Company owned one of the railcars involved.

NS asserted in the lawsuit documents that it could end up paying both companies damages as well as other third parties.

Vandalism Suspected in NS Yard Derailment

August 9, 2014

 

Police believe that switch tampering is to blame for a derailment at a Norfolk Southern yard in Battle Creek, Mich., late Thursday.

The derailment occurred at about 9 p.m. at the Hinman Yard and caused an estimated $100,000 in damage. There were no injuries or hazardous materials involved. The yard is near a Kellogg cereal plant.

Railroad employees reported seeing a man run away and drive off in a full-size red pickup truck with a utility trailer loaded with lawn mowers after they spotted him in the yard. The man is suspected of having thrown a switch in the yard, causing the derailment.

 

 


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